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March Retiree's Corner

U.S. Airmen with the South Carolina Air National Guard form up for Retirement and Awards ceremony on the flight line at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., May 5, 2007.  (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Caycee Watson/Released)

U.S. Airmen with the South Carolina Air National Guard form up for Retirement and Awards ceremony on the flight line at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., May 5, 2007. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Caycee Watson/Released)

MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, S.C. -- We had another cold winter day for our Luncheon, but we had about 55 warm hearted people show. Our first timers were a bit different. We were 'invaded' by three of our outstanding Chiefs from the base; State Command Chief Larry Crowson, future Wing Command Chief Stephen Shepherd and my old 240th buddy, Chief Pete Weidel. It was indeed an honor and privilege for them to show up at our Luncheon. Speaking of honor and privileges, Lt. Col. Tim Dotson, 169th Civil Engineer Squadron commander, did a superb job in briefing us about McEntire and all its activities.

Anybody that shows up regularly for our Luncheons are kept well informed about base activities. Sometimes I think we know more than some active members that are in the back shops or remote facilities at the base.

To be honest, at first I thought having the different folks assigned to write the Commander's Corner come to our meetings could turn out to be laborious, take too long, and be repetitive at times, but that thought has long been erased. It has turned out to be a win/win situation. So my hat is off to, at that time Colonel, Brig. Gen. Scott Williams for instituting this procedure. It is also my feeling the people 'assigned' to visit us may have had some apprehension about doing this. But as time marches on, it has become an enjoyable experience for them, or at least they show this based on my years of watching and analyzing human behavior.

At the Luncheon, I selected Eva Ezzell, Sam's wife, to read and honor all our spouses by reading a letter written by a Guard wife, entitled; "I am a Guard Wife". It was very poignant honoring what our spouses have done for us.

McEntire History: This is the final increment of the 2007 retirees that we would like to recognize, they are as follows: Senior Master Sgt. Philip Whack. Master Sgts. Vanessa Jackson, Ray Mixon, Gary Swanson, Gerald Cranford, Rachel Thompson, Johnathan Waters and Cheryl Metz. Tech. Sgts. Richard Barfield, Frank O' Neill and Donald Knight. Also, Staff Sgt. Samuel Tenor. This concludes the 2007 retirees, and as always if you retired during the year 2007 and did not see your name please give me a call at 803-936-0680, or email me at rbarkalow@sc.rr.com. This is just one of the reasons I do this to see if we have anyone out there that retired but is not reported as such.

One thing I did not mention in my Luncheon report is that invariably there are opportunities for some good Congaree/McEntire stories to surface and be told. In fact, seeing Pete Weidel prompted me to 'spin a yarn'. I and others find these stories to be most interesting. There are thousands of them out there. I heard one story that Billy Cobb and Bill Wannamaker were in a jeep or small truck while Bob Dorn had to dump his wing tanks in order to land because of an emergency. The wing tanks almost hit them tumbling down after them. It is these kind of stories that ought to be saved, we all have them, many now probably have become more humorous probably with a hint of 'embellishment' over time?

I just received my printed copy of Afterburner and this is prompting me to remind you of several things. Such as when is our retired military pay date, it is usually on the first of the month, except when the first is on a holiday or weekend, then it is the last business day of the month. The example is the month of February; the pay date is the 28th, since the first would be on a Saturday. So keep that in mind. Also if interested, you may order a Presidential Memorial Certificate for a deceased Airman. This may be done by sending in copies of a discharge document, and a death certificate. You can find out more information by calling the VA at 800-827-1000 or check the website at http://www.cem.va.gov/pmc.asp.

I have to tell you, I was impressed watching our jets take off earlier in February. I went out to McEntire along with Ms. Jean and Jaws to watch them take off. One of the chiefs asked us if we would like to see them 'close up' and took us down between the runways to watch all 16 of them take off. It was quite impressive to the five of us who he took. It vibrated my body and soul every time one would take off. It must have helped my golf game a bit, because I have played well since then?

Our next Luncheon is March 4th at the Fort Jackson NCO Club beginning at 1200. Come if you can, it is an enjoyable experience. We are getting people from the Florence and Aiken areas as well as Chapin and deep down into Lexington County, so don't let distance be criteria for you not coming.